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Tony Bubb Getting started on "Low Spark"...
|RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. MORE INFO >>>|
A great climb with a few different cruxes, but the difficulty is largely associated with its length.
P1: (5.11, 155') Start up very moderate terrain on the front of a huge, solid stack of flakes, climbing about 8-10 meters to the top of this to intercept a splitter 2" crack. Place a few pieces of 2" gear as you blast through the opening thin-hands crux and then past a section that will take a 2.5" friend or a red camalot, back to 2" and then continue to a few good stances and a rest before it gets thin again Place one or more 1.5" pieces and crack through a thin spot in the crack with an offset, a possible crux, depending on strength and hand-size. The offset is facing the right way for a lie-back at least. Be sure to save a 1.5" and 2" piece for later though... at the bulge.
After the previous thin section, continue on wide hands in a heavily featured crack with some fists (pro up to 3.5 camalot or a #4 could work here or there, but is not required). COntinue to a bulge at about 100' up, the right edge of the roof seen from the road and clearly seen in Bloom's photograph of the crag. This is a crux as well. Protect with smaller gear you saved and pull up into the bulge on less secure footing and flaring jams. If you didn't save small pro (I didn't) you can jam a 2.5" cam in your only good hand-jam and really fight for it to a true bottleneck a foot higher. Once though this section, the cruxes are over and the rest is just endurance. Climb ever higher for a total of 155' to a good ledge and get up on that to reach a bolt and ring anchor.
P2: (5.10, 75') The mental crux, with softer rock and a section of poor gear topped out with a less than ideal anchor. Not a requisite for a classic experience, but OK for desert rats who want to "finish the climb." You might want to have your partner send up a wide piece on your tag line... and a bolt kit or at least a rap hanger and some lock-tite if you plan to do the second pitch. Climb up the left facing corner on mostly good jams (2.5-3") with one or two smaller pieces (1.5" and 2") past the wide spot you can see 50' above (#3.5 camalot) and continue for 25 feet more out of sight through wide climbing. A very large cam or big pro could protect this easy climbing on softer rock... tread lightly. The belayer can stay huddled to the right under a bulge at the belay to dodge anything turned loose from above. Climb to the crappy anchors and replace some junk washers with hangers, then tighten the spinning nuts. A good seat on so-so rock is available a the top of the pitch from which to do this. Sorry, I don't own a drill...
TO descend, rap with a single line back to the first belay, then off the ledge at the first belay on double ropes to the ground, 155' below.
EVEN IF the anchors at the top of P2 were good enough, I am not sure that two 70M ropes would get you down all the way.
Since the beginning of this route is so easy, however, I am pretty sure you could climb the thing from the ground to the top of P2 as a single pitch if you cared to. But then the new crux would be carrying the rack...
As you approach the cliff, look for a sweeping roof at the center of the SE face, spanning perhaps 50 feet with 3 end-to-end sections at slightly different elevations from the ground. This will be your point of arrival at the cliff, and the right edge of the right most tier of roof is intercepted from the ground by a huge, solid stack of flakes (8 meters high) to a thin hands splitter crack that gets wider as you go, to the roof. The crack continues and continues...
This is also 10 meters left of the huge left facing corner with the outside wall split by a right-hooking offset crack at the top (the route "Go Sparky Go.")
A solid and large rack from 1.5" to 4". HEavy on the 2", 2.5" for the bottom quarter and then again later (so save a few) and heavy on the hands to wide hands (3"). A few larger pieces are nice to have. The first pitch ends after almost 50 meters at a bolted anchor on a very good ledge, and the second pitch goes up for 25 meters beyond that on mostly hands-sized gear, with an optional OW piece up near the top. The anchor for the top pitch is in dire need of a better solution- right now it is old crap webbing tightened behind a few washers on old bolts. One of the nuts is a spinner. This was backed up for us to rap off of, but is still not "good" as I failed to "equalize" the washers well, which encourages them to spin. As well, the top section of the top pitch is somewhat loose. P2, while easier than P1 is NOT for the beginning leader or desert newbie.
2 ropes are absolutely required to get down from the anchor on the top of P1. It is possible to walk sideways on the ledge to the anchor to the left and rap in 2 raps as well, but the lower of those anchors is less solid.
Tony Bubb approaching better jams on "Low Spa...
great climb splitter off the ground
By chris Kalous
Sep 30, 2007
The first anchor on this route was replaced in June 2005 courtesy of Climbing Magazine's ARI program. We ran out of time to replace the second anchor - but I agree that it needs a new setup. Also, be careful of your belayer as this pitch is indeed loose.
The anchor on the route to the left of Low Spark was also replaced.
From: Los Alamos, NM
Mar 19, 2013
I thought it was hilarious that the guidebook recommended a rack of singles to #2 and doubles of #3 (or something like that).
By Kelsey Sheely
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Oct 21, 2013
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
The first pitch of this climb was awesome! Definitely don't follow the book's recommendation on pieces. I took 1 (0.5), 4 (0.75s), 3 (1s), 3 (2s), 2 (3s), and 1 (4). The only piece I didn't use was the 4. I thought the bulge and the tight section about 20 ft below the bulge were the hardest parts.
I didn't place anything in the upper flake section because it was rather suspect. I felt better just getting to the top as fast as possible.